What is a Nurse Practitioner or CRNP?

A Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) is a health care provider who has undergone both extensive undergraduate and graduate studies in the field of nursing. All CRNP’s have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and a Master’s of Science of Nursing. They also have had at least 2 years of experience prior to becoming a CRNP as registered nurses in settings such as hospital, outpatient specialty practices, and primary care.

Before receiving their bachelor’s degree, RNs have to complete four years of schooling and three years of clinical rotations. Before receiving their master’s degrees, CRNPs have to complete a certain number of clinical hours and require at least 2 years of clinical rotations during their schooling. Both RNs and CRNPs have to pass national boards and have to renew their certification every couple years.

In many states including Maryland, Arizona, Rhode Island, Washington, Montana, and the District of Columbia, CRNPs can maintain their own fully independent practice. Currently, in the state of Pennsylvania, CRNPs cannot practice independently. They must maintain a collaborative agreement with a designated physician.


What do Nurse Practitioners do?

CRNPs diagnose, manage and treat both acute and chronic illnesses along with promoting wellness. There is no limitation to the type of patient they can see in the office. They can order labs, images, prescribe medications and refer patients to specialists as needed. In addition, some CRNPs can perform minor office procedures. Along with treating illnesses, CRNPs can complete physical exams, routine gynecological exams and pap smears. CRNPs work independently in the office with their own patients but can collaborate with another physician or CRNP if questions arise.


Are Nurse Practitioners the same thing as Physician Assistants?

No. A Physicians assistant ( PA) is a masters prepared medical professional who works as a part of a team with a doctor. A PA is a graduate of an accredited Pa educational program who is nationally certified and state licensed to practice medicine with the supervision of a physician. They are not nurses and are governed under the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine. CRNPs are regulated under the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.


Can I have a Nurse Practitioner as my Primary Care Provider?